Is This Surfing's Most Important Skill?

11 Feb 2019 3 Share

Nick Carroll

Senior Writer

CW SURF SAFETY SERIES
Presented by Coastalwatch & Surf Life Saving New South Wales

Number four in a six part series, hosted by Nick Carroll

Surfing’s not that safe. That’s why we dreamed up this series. As surfers, occasionally we get ourselves into danger. Sometimes — not often, but sometimes — it’s mortal danger. We also see other people in danger. But how many of us know what to do when things go pear-shaped in the ocean?

EPISODE FOUR: HOW TO DO A SURFBOARD RESCUE

As surfers, we’re equipped with a fantastic and very special device for when things go pear shaped. Yes, it’s the surfboard, and if you find yourself in the situation in episode three, here’s how to use it as a rescue tool.

– Don’t rush.

– Approach the person. If you’re inside the lineup, try to do this while paddling or facing out to sea, facing broken waves, so you can see what’s coming.

– If he or she is with us, ie conscious, talk to the person. Get a name, tell them your name, let ‘em know you’re gonna help etc.. Make a judgement about their state of mind etc.. Tell the person exactly what you’re going to do at every stage of the rescue.

– If it’s safe to do so, give the person your board to hang on to. He/she may just need a moment to get a breath. Stay out of grabbing range though. DON’T take off your legrope.

– Once the person is calm, get yourself back on the board as well and move out of danger and back to the beach. Use your body weight to help secure the person to the board. Don’t wait for a wave, you don’t want to be near an impact zone or anything like it. Keep talking, make sure you stay in constant communication with the person and with anyone else who comes to help.

– If the person is unresponsive, unable to move properly, or even unconscious, you need to get ‘em back to the beach right away, which means getting ‘em on the board.

– Flip your board upside down. Get hold of the person’s arms and pull them across the board, using one hand to lock the person’s wrist against the rail of the board. Now use your body weight to pull or flip the board right ways up, so the person’s chest and body are draped across the deck of the board.

– Swing the person’s legs up on to the board and climb on behind the person, using your body weight to pin them to the board. Get to the beach, quick as you can.

This works better with a bigger board so use one if it’s available.

– It’s good to ask for backup from other surfers, even if it’s as simple as getting someone to catch a wave in quick and call 000. Get one or more of ‘em to follow you in, just in case you lose the patient on the way.

Other Episodes

Episode One: Fact & Fiction

Episode Two: 6 Things You Can Do Today To Become A Safer Surfer

Episode Three: You’re in the Water and Something Bad Happens, What Do You Do Next?

Stay Tuned for the next episode: CARDIO-PULMONARY RESUSCITATION — start to (hopefully good) finish.

If you would like to learn more about board rescues and CPR, contact Surfing NSW. Surfers Rescue 24/7 Courses are free and run up and down the NSW coastline. www.surfersrescue247.com

Contact your local Surf Life Saving club www.surflifesaving.com.au to enroll in a full Bronze Medallion course.

This series was made with thanks to:

Surfers: Nina Lindley & Dylan Wilkinson
Footage: Matt Dunbar, Surfer Films, Ethan Smith & Surfing NSW
Written & presented by Nick Carroll
Filmed & produced by Sally Mac

Over the series, Nick will:

  • Talk through some of the fact and fiction around who’s at risk in the water
  • Suggest six things everyone can do, like right away, to make things safe
  • Show you the first moves to make in a watery crisis
  • Demo a simple method of rescuing a person using your normal, everyday board
  • Do a step-by-step, surf-specific CPR instructional
  • Give you some ideas about resources if you want to take your rescue skills to the next level

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